History of Rats and Humans
Rats are highly associated with humans and can be prolific, especially when ample food is available. They foul foods with urine and feces, chew wiring, and chew holes in our homes. Because of this, humanity has probably been trying to kill them ever since they first moved in with us thousands of years ago. Our mutual history includes an estimated 75-200 million dead from the Black Death . A variety of other potentially fatal diseases are also spread by rats . Combined, mice and rats carry 35 different diseases that can be transmitted to humans. The term “dirty rat” is certainly fitting
There is a variability in the intelligence level in rats; but a history of attempts to kill rats has undoubtedly placed a selective pressure on rats that has helped create a “super rat” that is much harder to catch. Rats are neophobic, which means that they fear new objects or foods. In addition, they learn quickly from negative experiences. Misses in traps “educate” rats and make them harder to catch. Poisons that make rats feel ill are later avoided. Generally speaking, rats can easily become “trap shy” , frustrating removal efforts.
In addition to their high intelligence, they have the abilities beyond that of Olympic athletes. They can jump vertically 3 feet or horizontally 4-8 feet depending on the start. They can climb up textured surfaces like brick or up a pipe if it is the right diameter. They can also burrow 4 feet into the soil.
Tracking Rats with Glow in the Dark Tracking Powder
Glow in the Dark Tracking Powder is very useful when removing rats. Other tracking powders allow verification of activity in certain areas and may even allow identification of the culprit species through foot prints; but this new powder allows for a much higher level of sensitivity. In addition to track identification, this powder allows the user to track rats as far as 40′ from the source of the powder. It also clings to fur and creates rub marks and droplets in areas beyond 40′. This makes it easy to find other activity areas, feeding areas, passages, etc.
Verifying trap shyness
Because rats learn from negative experiences it is sometimes hard to know if rats have been completely trapped out of an area or if they have simply become trap shy. Because rats do not associate tracking powder with negative experiences they do not avoid it. Additionally, rats do not have good color vision and it is likely that they can not detect it visually, especially in dark areas like crawl spaces.
A quality rat elimination job includes complete exclusion of rats from the premises. Leaving avenues open for reinvasion can create a situation in which it is nearly impossible to remove all the rats from the area. The ability to track rats can help locate entrances that would otherwise be missed. Without complete exclusion, rats can be expected to return. This means sealing all entrances along foundations and rooflines. Even relatively small holes need to be sealed. Rats can pass through slots as small as 3/4 of an inch. Juvenile rats can pass through 1/2 inch slots.
Rat exclusion and elimination will still be a challenge, but at least we have one more good tool that makes getting rid of them much easier.